World Christmas traditions: Spain

Sheila Byers Sheila Byers
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Spain, like everywhere else, has again arrived at Christmas. It seems impossible, as people were only just dressed for summer, but it's true: the decorations on the streets, the toy commercials on TV, and special seafood advertised in the markets: Christmas has arrived. While some go crazy with decorating and others would rather disappear during this time, surely everyone gets excited when they see El Almendro candy and smiles unintentionally when they hear kids talk excitedly about what the Kings will bring this year. Christmas in Spain is not white, but full of coloured lights. It is not quiet, but full of excitement and shouting that mean jubilation and joy. 

At homify, we can not resist talking about Christmas. Today we look at an overview of Christmas traditions in Spain.

A Christmas lottery

If there is one thing that gives the starting signal for Christmas, that's the draw of the Christmas lottery, the Gordo. Even though cities may have been illuminated for weeks, and stores have not stopped playing carols, Christmas in Spain does not officially begin until when, on December 22, the illusions and dreams of millions of Spaniards are embodied in a five-digit number, the Gordo. 

It dates back to the Cortes de Cádiz, around the year 1812, and its aim was simply to increase revenue from public funds without a general tax increase. The state can make generate some revenue and few can strike it rich. But of course, most settle for watching the joyful images on TV and thinking that they will certainly have more luck next year!

A season for feasts

 Dining room by gabel

Since food is one of the most important parts of the holiday, the two weeks of Christmas become a real marathon binge of heavy meals and sweets. If you are in Spain, everywhere you go, someone will offer a marzipan sweet or a piece of nougat, and as much as you may say no, you will somehow end up with a candy in your mouth and another in your pocket for later. 

The culinary madness of Christmas is unmatched by any other event of the year. Not surprisingly, going to the gym is always the first on the list of New Years resolutions. Ham, cheeses, seafood, pates, and fish fillets are dishes that are often on the menu for Christmas Eve, New Years, and Christmas dinner. The dining rooms of each house become true four-star restaurants!

And yes, it is possible that your mouth is watering now, but by January 7 everyone will be dreaming of lettuce and tomatoes for dinner!

Grapes on New Years Eve

Christmas Range:   by The White Company
The White Company

Christmas Range

The White Company

The end of year is a special night that begins glamorously, with bubbles in champagne, but often ends with less luxury and more dark circles and, in the worst cases, a terrible hangover. Starting the year with headache is a classic in Spain and around the world.

In Spain they also have the tradition of the 12 grapes, whose origin is unclear, but may be related to a surplus of grapes among farmers in the early twentieth century. You eat 12 grapes at the turn of the year, one for each stroke of the clock. Whatever the origins of the tradition, the fact is that during the 36 seconds that 12 strokes last, in every home and in every square of Spain, silence is broken only by the chime of the clock. A solemn and emotional moment that ends with an explosion of joy, kisses, hugs and unanimous Happy New Year!

The kings

Christmas Range:   by The White Company
The White Company

Christmas Range

The White Company

While the rest of Europe takes their lights down after New Years, in Spain, they are still only in the middle of the holidays. And what remains is no small feat. The Kings are one of the most deeply rooted traditions in the country and also one of the most fun, especially if you have kids around. The cavalcade of the magi is a parade of the kings that takes place in every Spanish city on the evening of January 5. In addition, everyone eats a special pastry called the King cake.

Before the tradition of Santa Claus was also installed in Spain, Spanish children had much patience than other kids! Every Christmas they wait  for the most magical night of the year: January 5. That night the Magi from the East, come with their camels bearing gifts, come in the windows and, if the kids have been good, fill their shoes with treats. If they have been bad, the magi bring coal, but somehow that never seems to happen…

Would you fancy a Spanish Christmas? Let us know in the comments!
Whitton Drive:  Terrace house by GK Architects Ltd

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